September 2, 2015


China steps up campaign to make GMO food acceptable



China is apparently stepping up its campaign to make genetically modified foods more acceptable among local consumers as the Ministry of Agriculture recently issued a statement making assurances that all certified GM foods sold on the Chinese market are safe.


The ministry said late last week it would cooperate with other departments to ensure the safety of GM products, adding that China, as well as other countries, has done much research on the safety of GM foods that proved certified GM foods are as safe as traditional foods.


Earlier in March, the 10 members of China's top political advisory body asked the ministry for an update on the country's improved safety management of GM foods.


"Internationally, there is a conclusion on the safety of GM foods, that is, that all GM foods that have passed safety evaluation and been certified are safe," the ministry recently said. The statement is seen as part of the government's effort to make GM food more acceptable to Chinese consumers.


"The conclusion by the World Health Organisation is that no health damage has been seen in any people worldwide who have consumed GM foods that have been approved by authorities," the agriculture ministry added.


Public opposition


Public opposition has hampered efforts to make GM food more acceptable. A 2014 poll by the Public Opinion Research Laboratory of Shanghai Jiao Tong University revealed that less than 1% of 1,050 people surveyed fully accepted food obtained from GM sources.


Huang Dafang, a biological technology researcher at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, said it was "natural that some people oppose new technologies, such as GM food, since they have little knowledge of these technologies". 


He added that the "mainstream opinion among scientists in the world is that GM food is safe".


Under a regulation issued by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2002, producers for the Chinese market are obliged to label products that contain elements of GM soybeans, rapeseed, corn, cotton and tomato, which are the five major types of GM products in China.


"The Chinese food and drug authorities will improve supervision of labeling of GM foods, and those GM food producers who fail to label their products will be punished," the ministry said.


According to the No.1 Central Document of 2015 issued earlier this year by China's Central Committee and State Council, more effort is still needed for genetically modified organisms (GMO) to become more acceptable among Chinese consumers. --Rick Alberto

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